While dealing with breast cancer is hard enough on its own, there is often the added difficulty of explaining your diagnosis to family members, friends, and, yes, your boss. When it comes to talking to your boss about breast cancer, the first thing you must decide is whether you want to tell at all. You don’t have to, of course, unless you foresee the treatment process interfering with your work.
What matters most is that you feel comfortable in who you tell and how you tell it. If you decide to tell your boss about your diagnosis, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Plan out your conversation.
Dealing with breast cancer is emotionally and physically draining. While some patients feel comfortable talking about their diagnosis, others do not. If you’re feeling uncertain about talking with your boss, it’s important to plan out what you want to say, and perhaps even how you want to say it, before you schedule that meeting. This will give you time to consider how much you want to share, as well as what you hope to achieve in the meeting. Perhaps you will need time off. Maybe you just want to explain why you’re more tired than usual. Knowing what you want to say before you say it will help you feel more confident when dealing with this sensitive issue.
Talk with your boss in private.
Rather than just grabbing your boss in the hallway, take time to set up a formal meeting where you can sit down in a comfortable space and tell him or her in private. This professionalism will ensure that the gravity of your dealing with breast cancer is conveyed.
Assure your boss you’re committed to the job.
If you have a good boss, he or she is likely to give you the time and space to work around dealing with breast cancer. However, no matter for whom you work, it’s likely your boss will feel encouraged by your commitment to your work. This will not only keep the two of you on good terms, it may also allow for further help or time off in the future, if needed.
Document your meeting.
While we all hope our bosses will keep their words, it’s good to document any promises made about paid time off, assurances of job security, etc. in paper just in case. All this might mean is having your boss explain in an email anything particular he or she promises or simply logging the dates and times of your meetings and what is said.
Know your rights.
In order to stand up for yourself while dealing with breast cancer, it’s important to know your employee rights. This may be as simple as knowing that as a cancer patient, you deserve quality care and time to battle and recover. Learn more about self-advocacy here.